Valentines Day is another one of those celebratory days on the calendar that can trigger grief emotions. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed since you lost your spouse, we grieve because of the significant loss, not because of what day it is.
With commercials marketing this as a ‘couple’s thing’, the social media brag fest and all of the shop displays offering the ‘perfect’ his or her gifts, there are triggers all over which serve to remind us of those missing in our lives – especially if you had a special tradition which used to mark the occasion.
Here’s a few tips to help you cope with any grief you feel on or around Valentines Day as you continue to heal from your loss:
#1. Throw out the rule book. The idea that we’re supposed to spend Valentines Day staring lovingly across a candle-lit dinner table is nonsense. Make the day whatever you want it to be. You can round up some girlfriends and go to dinner with them, or book yourself a little pampering treatment. If the message of the day is “love”, then love up on yourself.
#2. Be with other loved ones. Spend the day with the children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Being around family or those we consider to be family is good for the soul. You can even swap stories and share memories of your loved one if you’d like to.
#3. Spread the love. An act of kindness or doing a good deed for somebody else is a great distraction and really does give you a little serotonin boost.
#4. Take to your journal. Do a brain dump of how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. It’s a healthy outlet and can also lead to some valuable insights about your grief journey. You’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come. You could even add a list of things you love to do and plan something for the near future.
#5. Send out your own love notes. You can still buy Valentines cards and gifts if you want to. Send them out to your nearest and dearest with no expectations. The act of doing this is a reminder of the people you still have in your life.
#6. Occupy yourself. This might be a great day to write a list of tasks for the coming week or even just relax with a few movies. Think about how you’d like to occupy your time before the day arrives.
#7. Call time-out on social media. If flicking through Facebook memories or seeing your newsfeed full of others celebrating with their loved ones upsets you, then take a break for a couple of days.
#8. Honour your loved one. Focusing your attention on a meaningful way to honour and commemorate your loved one can help channel your thoughts and feelings in a positive way. Ask yourself how your loved one would like to be remembered and then make it happen. You might like to make this your Valentine’s Day tradition.
#9. Talk about it. Reach out to a friend or family member to have a chat about how you’re feeling. If you’re really struggling then seek some help – now is as good a time as any. I know it sounds cliché, but as lonely as you feel, you’re never alone.
#10. Do nothing. Valentines Day is just one day in the year. You may feel nothing towards it and that’s ok too. You can decide to treat it like any other day and carry on as you were. Tomorrow is another day.
With all of the celebratory days, it’s about giving yourself permission to grieve in your own way. You don’t need to think, act or be a certain way. If you want to laugh, then laugh. If you want to cry, then cry. This is a personal journey and your loss is individual to you, so do this however you wish.